5th UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Melissa Taylor
Session Name Poster Session - Policy & Behavior Change
Poster Number 34
Author(s) Melissa Taylor,  University of Florida (Presenting Author)
  Alexa Lamm,  University of Florida
  Minimizing Disparities and Developing Support by Identifying Differences in Water Confidence and Knowledge
  A growing population coupled with a diminishing water supply demands a need for more knowledge of water issues facing the state of Florida. The purpose of this study was to obtain a better understanding of decision makers’ and the general public’s confidence in Florida’s water resources as well as their awareness of water issues. It is important to understand both views. County commissioners, county managers, and county clerks make direct decisions about water regulation and control in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Protection and water management districts. However, while the general public’s stance on issues does not have a direct impact on policy, it does impact their local decision maker’s choices and may in fact influence policies in an indirect way. Those working to establish effective and efficient policy need to be aware of how the general public perceives issues as they make choices regarding their support of new regulations and legislation. Understanding the views and behaviors of all water users is critical to understanding the degree of success that can be achieved with any mandated policy. As hypothesized, the results revealed significant statistical differences between the groups in almost every category analyzed. The general public had a higher confidence in future water availability than decision makers. Additionally, decision makers had significantly more knowledge of water issues, particularly policies and legislation. The findings suggested it is important to expose the general public to the state’s current water situation such as excessive withdrawal, frequent drought, flash flooding, sea level rise, and the impacts of population growth but to do so in a way that will not be contradictory to their current beliefs. The best ways to educate were also analyzed and discussed.